Every year when October rolls around, the traditional horror films such as “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” make the movie marathon rounds. This year, switch things up a little bit and screen some horror films from Mexico and South America.
1. “La maldición de la llorona”
La Llorona is one of the OG scary legends of Mexico folklore, so you know she had to get her shining moment on film at one point or another. In this 1963 Mexican horror film, a beautiful villain who likes to practice black magic tries to lure her niece into her mansion. The plot sounds like a creepier version of Snow White as they try to resurrect La Llorona. Sounds crazier than our Tia Rosita who has five dogs and cats in her house, but only by a little bit.
2. “Hasta el viento tiene miedo”
Literally translated as “Even the wind is afraid,” just the title of this Mexican horror film is enough to send chills up our spine. Think of it as our parents’ version of “Saw” or “The Conjuring.” The film is set at an all-girls boarding school and a ghost roams the halls, constantly sparking nightmares for one of the students.
Before Guillermo del Toro become an Oscar winner and had racked up a roster of fantastical films, his 1993 horror drama film “Cronos” was the first feature film he directed. The film’s plot centered around an antique dealer who finds a mechanical object that injects him and allows him to become younger and stronger—but also gives him a thirst for blood. If you want to continue a del Toro-themed scary movie marathon, then follow up “Cronos” with “The Devil’s Backbone.”
4. “This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse”
An example of Brazilian pornochanchada (a genre of sex comedy films made popular in the 1960s), “This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse” was one far-out baby mama drama. The main protagonist impregnates women but first makes them go through trials of tortures and tarantulas because his spawn must be immune to fear. None of this makes sense to us either.
In this Mexican horror film, two orphan girls at a convent get possessed by a demonic force after bumping into a band of gypsies and opening a casket. The film has often been compared to “The Exorcist” because of the similar themes of being possessed and scenes of sacrilege.
6. “Veneno para las hadas”
As the name suggests, “Veneno para las hadas” (Poison for fairies) starts out innocently and then turns menacing. In this 1980s Mexican horror film, a young girl named Veronica believes in witchcraft and evil spirits and convinces a new girl at her school she is a witch and can make supernatural events occur. When both girls attend a family vacation together, the plot thickens with a blazing fire involved.
7. “La Tía Alejandra”
Alright kids, this is why you need to be respectful to your elders. In this Mexican horror film, an elderly lady comes to live with her nephew’s family and is mercilessly teased by the children. Little did they know she is an actual witch that practices witchcraft and some strange events soon start to happen in the house.
There are certain universal similarities throughout the Latinidad that binds us to one another. We don’t mean stereotypes, but things that we honest to goodness all love. For example, our appreciation for cafecito and a rhythmic beat are accurate clichés tied to Latinx folk. Similarly, HBO’s new Spanish-language series is exploring another widely-held love within our culture.
On July 14th, the television network debuted its new series “Los Espookys” and it’s “horror” theme is very close to our hearts.
“Los Espookys” is a mostly Spanish-language comedy that includes a healthy dose of horror and camp. Created by Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega and Fred Armisen, the series takes place in an undisclosed city in Latin America. It follows a group of friends —Renaldo, Andrés, Úrsula and Tati — as they turn their hobby of horror and special effects into a business of their very own creation.
While the show’s mix of comedy and horror is completely engaging, “Los Espookys” is also groundbreaking. As mentioned, the series is mostly in Spanish with English subtitles. The portions that aren’t in Español utilize slang and English with Spanish subtitles to communicate to its audience. For a large network like HBO to carry a Spanish language series and air it in primetime is a huge deal. Even more, it reflects how much confidence the “Game of Thrones” network has in the new show.
The premiere of “Los Espookys” opens with a super intense quinceanera. If you think you’ve been to some scary quinces before, just wait until you see this spook-tastic party. As it turns out, everything from the entrails cake to the mutilated waiters is the work of Renaldo and his crew. The party impresses everyone, including Renaldo’s uncle, Tio Tico (played by Armisen). Expressing his support, his uncle encourages the spooky connoisseur to pursue his passion — even if that passion is monsters and mayhem.
The friends get the chance to do just that when the local priest makes an unusual request of the group’s special skills.
Episode One also reveals more about the group of self-proclaimed “horror technicians.” The black-clad unofficial leader of the group is Renaldo and his life-long friend is Andrés. The electric blue-haired Andrés is the heir to a chocolate company. Called the “Prince of Chocolate,” he is a genuinely intriguing dude with dramatic past. (Note the intense telenovela music that plays whenever he gets contemplative.)
Rounding out the group is a pair of unusual sisters. Úrsula is a dental hygienist with the soul of an artist who is happiest when she’s making something terrifying. Her sister is the odd and unintentionally funny Tita. We first meet Tita when she is hand-spinning the blades of an electric fan to cool down her boss, the priest. Fortunately for us, she only gets more bizarre as the episode goes on.
The cast delivers some great lines but that’s not the only thing that makes “Los Espookys” so entertaining. Improbable situations, subtle humor, and references to popular Latinx culture all add to the series’s appeal, too.
However, it’s the focus on the characters’ love of horror that will really resonate with Latinx viewers — and for a valid reason.
Whether it’s the scary legends of La Llarona y El Cucuy or the movies of Guermillo del Toro, the Latinidad loves horror. After all, we have an entire holiday completely devoted to honoring the dead. If you need additional proof of this love, look no further than our children — the future of our culture.
In early June 2019, 3-year-old Lucia Brown went viral for her very scary birthday theme. The birthday girl insisted on a party that included Valak, the satanic sister from “The Nun.” It wasn’t just Lucia that enjoyed the theme; her friends also painted their face in black and gave into the darkness.
Yet, a love of horror isn’t something we simply grow out of; it grows with us.
When we become teens and start to explore our own independence, we strike out towards our own styles. This often means we explore music and clothing to find what best suits us. In these two subjects, we still see marked examples of our cultural love of horror.
The Emo and Goth subcultures have been notably popular with Latinx teens and young adults since its birth. Both categories are usually associated with teens who are not of color and can appear to be at odds with the colorful traditions of the Latinidad. However, there’s something about the Emo and Goth lifestyles that resonate with Latinx folk.
These categories are often hard to describe but most people can place the look when they see it. Both Emo and Goth subgroups focus on self-expression by embracing dark fashions and the mentality of “the individual.” These subcultures also incorporate a healthy dose of horror — using zombies, monsters and the occult in their fashion and art.
Music is the heart of the Emo and Goth subcultures and is what most links the Latinidad to the lifestyle.
Emo and Goth music often explore dark and emotional topics in their lyrics and evoke feeling with their music. Bands like Morrissey, Joy Division and The Cure led the way for this type of music in the 80’s and 90’s. Later, groups including AFI, My Chemical Romance and The Used became the modern voice of their genre.
For these bands, Morrissey especially has become beloved to Latinx Goths and Emos. Maria Hinojosa’s exploration of this love — entitled “Goths: Latinos on the Dark Side” is an interesting episode of Latino USA that explores this topic.
In it, a guest explains, “For whatever reason, Latinos love Morrissey and no one really knows why. I think it’s the melodrama.”
It could be argued that melodrama is also the reason the Latinidad loves horror.
Many have expressed a sense of community in finding these subgenres so maybe that’s the real reason Latinx folk feel so at home with them.
Often times, Latinos and Latinas feel excluded from the larger communities we’re a part of. Sometimes we’re marginalized by income level. Sometimes it’s our nationality or citizen status that isolates us from others. We can even be excluded from others within our own Latinx community.
However, a shared appreciation of the Emo and Goth subgenres and all things horror unites us in a mutual love. In a world where we can feel so alone, we can go to a Guermillo del Toro film and feel connected. When feeling as though no one understands us, we can listen to Morrissey and hear our feelings in his words.
In this way, “Los Espookys” also has the potential to unite our Latinidad with something we’ll love. Though we’ve only seen one of the six episodes of this season, the response online has been more than positive. Obviously, the hilarious script combined with the characters’ love of horror makes for a combination that audiences relate to. We can’t wait to see what spooky surprises “Los Espookys” has in store for us still.
One group of students is a step closer to making their dreams come true, in no small part thanks to Mexican director Guillermo del Toro.
The director has often had a knack for making wishes come true – whether it be the starring character in “Shape of Water” or the slightly terrifying creatures of “Pans Labyrinth.”
But this time he’s helped grant the wishes of 12 Mexican math students who are aiming to travel to the International Math Competition happening this summer in South Africa.
The news quickly went viral and reached the ears of Guillermo del Toro, who then took to Twitter and wrote: “I offer to cover the airline tickets for all 12 members of the Olympic math team to South Africa. @CDMXOMM, I’m following you. Send me a DM, please. Abrazos.”
It all started on Thursday when Matemáticas CDMX shared a video thanking supporters for donations to help them reach their goal.
The team was coming up short and without much support from the government, they weren’t likely to make the trip on their own – dashing their dreams of competing in South Africa.
Once news broke that GDT, as he’s affectionately called in Mexico, was to cover the flight costs, many were shocked and grateful.
The mathmatics team themselves were shocked by the news and took to Twitter to say: “Wow! Just let us get up from the blackout!”
Many across social media were celebrating the gesture but it was the little math geniuses who were celebrating the greatest, as they’ll now be able to represent their country at this international event. The team took to Twitter to say they were “Excited, but above all motivated to give Mexico the international recognition that it deserves, we thank the community and other donors for their support of the Olympic team heading to South Africa…,” they wrote, noting that del Toro also will cover the flight tickets of another team that will attend a competition in the United Kingdom.
Many didn’t exactly know what to make of GDT trending on social media. Maybe he had a new movie in the works?
Although we are all here for his incredible kindness, wouldn’t it be amazing if he also announced he was working on a new film?
But once everyone realized what was happening, everyone came out to thank him!
We imagine there are many many Mexicans who feel the exact same way.
With the lack of support from the government, many were relieved that someone stepped up to help the kids achieve their goals.
One person on Twitter summed it up by saying “This dude, this is how it’s done!”
Others on Twitter were proud to see one of their own taking action to help the less fortunate.
Translation: “Guillermo del Toro, why did you pay for the plane tickets for the national math team?” “Because I am Mexican.”
Many were so moved by the generosity and shared how much hope it had given them.
With one person taking to Twitter to say: “Guillermo del Toro, today with your incredible gesture I again have hope in our country we can improve if there are more people like you.”